30 signs you’re no longer a backpacker

There was a time when I loved being a backpacker. I thought of myself like a little turtle carrying all my worldly possessions as I travelled around Asia. I could quickly pack up my life and move onto the next destination without batting an eyelid.

I’m currently travelling around Europe with Citadines and it reminds me a lot of my backpacking days as I move onto a new destination every couple of days.

The only thing is, this is waay better. No more heavy backpack, no more cheap overnight trains, no more grotty hostels and no cheap booze or budget meals in sight.

I guess I grew out of backpacking a long time ago but I can finally admit it and feel happy about it. For a while I was a flashpacker bur I’m not even sure that applies anymore. Give me a suitcase, a first class ticket and a nice aparrt’hotel and I’m a very happy traveller!

In case you were wondering, here are 30 signs you’re no longer a backpacker…

1. You won’t consider any hostel that isn’t described as ‘luxury’ or ’boutique’

Admittedly, I was never overly excited by the thought of sharing a bedroom (and often bathroom) with 11 other people but these days I just flat-out refuse. You couldn’t get me in a hostel dorm for love nor money.

I’ll just about think about a boutique hostel like Generator or KEX but only if I can have a private room and en-suite.


2. You’re traded in the backpack for flashy wheels

Once upon a time backpacks seems like a really good idea but the wheel was invented for a reason so we might as well use it, right?

Strong people will be rolling their eyes at this and saying a backpack is easier but my fellow weaklings will know what I’m talking about. A 20kg backpack is feels like you’re carrying a house.

backpack or suitcase

3. You’re an expert at packing light

You might prefer wheels these days but you can always get everything in a carry-on case, no matter how long you’re going away for.


4. You don’t want to go out every night

Remember the days when you’d go out every night until 4am and still manage to do something (anything!) the following day? Yea, not any more.


5. You have a plan

You actually travel with a plan these days with some kind of idea of what you’d like to see and do. And I don’t just mean finding a bar with the cheapest beer (although that’s also on the agenda).


6. You have a Lonely Planet

And you don’t just rely on the suggestions of your fellow backpackers you met in hostels.


7. You’ll always upgrade on buses and trains

First class bus and train tickets once seemed like a luxury. Now they’re a necessity. There’s no way you’re taking an overnight train in third class.

You’re not quite ready to upgrade on planes just yet but you know it won’t be long.

people standing on a train in India


So pleased not to be in this carriage

8. Travel hacking

You’re into travel hacking and will shop in certain supermarkets to get those all-important points.


9. You book in advance

You book flights well in advance. Yes, your itinerary isn’t as flexible but it’s so much cheaper!


10. You hate those repetitive backpacker conversations

“Where are you from?”

“Where have you been?”

“Where are you going?”

It gets pretty boring when you realise everyone goes to the same place and does the same thing.

Jelly shots on the beach

The perks of hotels – jelly delivered to your deckchair! 

11. You’re willing to pay more than $2.00 for dinner

We all love street food but sometimes it’s nice to have a table. And a plate. And a glass of wine.


12. You always apply sun cream

You’ll look good with a tan now but you won’t look good with wrinkles in 20 years time.


13. You plan your hangovers in advance

You need to plan the best days to have hangovers because those bad-boys will wipe you out for the whole day. You’ve also said the phrase, ‘I’m only having one drink, I don’t want to be hungover for tomorrow’s early flight.”


14. You pack smart clothes

And actually wear them.

Monica Stott San Francisco

Trying to look sophisticated 

15. You call your parents

You actually call your ma and pa rather than letting them rely on your Facebook updates to know you’re alive.


16. You love taxis

You take taxis from the airport to your accommodation to avoid the hassle of public transport.


17. You take day tours

And not just the free city tour which you sneak away from without leaving a tip. Tut tut, backpackers.


18. You realise hot water isn’t a luxury

It’s a basic human right and you can’t possibly wash your hair with cold water.


19. You regularly do your laundry while travelling

The ‘sniff it and see’ test won’t cut it anymore.

monica stott in Thailand

I used to wash these shorts about once every two months

20. You’ll pay a little bit extra to avoid Ryan Air

It’s just not worth the effort.


21. You’ve rented a car during your travels

And not just a cheap scooter covered in terrifying scratches and dents.

Blue Car Hire Iceland

Iceland – the best place ever for road trips!

22. You’re bored of the ‘I’ve travelled more than you’ conversation

We’ve all met the competitive backpacker at some point. It’s about experiences not ticking items off your bucket list!


23. You want to get off the beaten path

No, really, you’re not just saying it to sound cool before following where everyone else is going.


24. You travel slowly

You’d rather travel slowly and experience a place than whizz through to tick it off your list

The Travel Hack at Loch Lomond

I always travel via private yacht 

25. You don’t feel the need to stitch flags onto your luggage

You paid £150 for that case, you’re not going to wreck it with badly stitched flags.


26. Your trips are shorter because you have an actual real job

Not just grape picking.


27. You’re happy to travel solo

There was a time when you liked to travel in a group of 4-8 but now solo travel doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.


28. You own expensive, polarized sunglasses

Not cheap ones you picked up for $1 at a market


29. You refuse to drink goon and cheap spirits

They taste like crap and the hangover just isn’t worth it.

Life is too short to drink bad wine

30. You don’t feel the need to put everything on Facebook

Some moments are best enjoyed without a competition to get the most Facebook likes.

Do you have anything else to add to the list?

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of the best holidays. Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!


  • October 2, 2014

    Great post! I especially like traveling solo now. I used to hate it but after living abroad, I really enjoy it.

  • October 2, 2014

    This cracked me up, my backpacking days aren’t over quite yet but there are still a few points that I agree with: the constant travelling one-up manship enrages me and I prefer to take my time travelling rather than just dashing around like a headless chicken. But I’ve yet to grasp the whole points system and I am sadly still putting myself through the pain of flying with Ryanair (WHY). I’ve got a little more growing yet!

  • Madeline
    October 2, 2014

    Very interesting post 🙂

  • October 2, 2014

    Love it! Though I was all about giant rucksack, $5 dorm beds and two-day bus rides ten years ago I really couldn’t hack any of it now. I’m still a long way from a luxury traveller but I’m happy to be right in the middle ground!

  • October 2, 2014

    I have to admit, although I often bargain-hunt and have done my fair share of budget travel in my student days, I never technically backpacked but this list is hilarious and so much of it rings true for me in any case….although….don’t judge me but I do still get the occasional RyanAir flight if it’s the easiest or the cheapest by a mile 🙂

  • Kristin from MN
    October 2, 2014

    Haha I love this post! I wholeheartedly agree with everything. I must have an en suite, I do have Ray-Bans, sunscreen is a must, planning and day trips both are a must, and I definitely can’t stay out all night partying anymore if I want to do ANYTHING the next day. I’m a huge fan of your blog! I’m in the planning stages of starting my own travel blog. Do you use mailchimp or aweber, or which do you recommend?

  • October 2, 2014

    Lol ! My only experience close to backpacking (with dorms, hostels and a backpack) was in Australia 8 years ago… Then i realized i wanted (not “neeeded” but “was willing to spend a little extra for”) a little bit more comfort and privacy (those shared bathrooms… Ugh). But i never considered myself as a real backpacker wandering the world, more like a traveller who always had a real job and wanted to travel and during the holidays.
    It’s the spirit in which you do things that counts, in my opinion, not so much lenght of stay and number of travelled countries, even though sometimes you obviously get more about the population when you stay longer.

  • October 2, 2014

    I have certainly found myself wondering the same thing lately, especially after a day of travelling Amsterdam exhausted me. I however am not quite ready to give up my backpacker status yet even though some of these things apply to me. Great read.

  • October 3, 2014

    This is great! I am still firmly in the backpacker camp for the time being, however I seriously look forward to the day when I can stay in boutique hotels and drink wine….and when a hot shower is no longer a luxury!

  • Amanda
    October 3, 2014

    Great post – oh so true. My backpacking days are well and truly over. I’m done with the fear of bed bugs and sharing hostel bunk beds. Bring on the luxury of your own bed, ensuite and privacy!

  • October 3, 2014

    Yes to everything on this list!

  • October 3, 2014

    I just sold my backpack! And all my photos go on my blog rather than Facebook now.
    Everything else on the list rings a bell too, especially the slow travel as I appear to like settling down in one place for at least 2 years at a time! 🙂
    Fantastic post.

  • October 4, 2014

    I think in my head I’m no longer a backpacker, but unfortunately my bank balance hasn’t caught up.
    Although I’ve resonated with No. 4 for a very long time. I must be getting old 🙂

  • October 4, 2014

    I’ve never been a backpacker. Haha. Always opted for nice hotels and nice dinners. I love me some restaurants. Plus I like packing cute clothes themed to my trip.

  • October 5, 2014

    During my current trip in Colombia I am realizing more and more that I’m not a backpacker anymore. I still love my backpack, but I just can’t connect to the backpackers. Exactly as you say: the backpacker conversations are always the same. I guess it’s an age thing…unfortunately I don’t have the funds yet to afford boutique hotels, but I’ll get there, I’m sure! Thanks for your post!

  • October 22, 2014

    I loved this! I’m just about to set off on a 4 month trip around Asia but a lot of this list applies to me. I don’t know if i’m doing it as a backpacker :S I have a great wheelie carry on suitcase. Do you think it would survive the likes of Cambodia and Indonesia? Or do I need to bite the bullet and get a backpack? I’m really struggling to decide. Thank you ^^

  • Glenn Kelly
    October 22, 2014

    Love it!

    These are spot on, except I still secretly love my backpack. I suppose it’s a personal preference when ever I’m heading off the track to places where a rolling suitcase just isn’t practical. For example I’m heading to India in Dec and it will be a backpack type trip, with public transport, racing TukTuks, and generally being very portable. That said my backpack never exceeds 14KG (even with Macbook and camera equipment)

    The one about packing light is the big one for me. I worked as a Travel Director and seeing people bringing 30+kg suitcases for a 14day trip breaks my heart..and their backs!

    Love the blog!

    ps: I will give my first born to never deal with RyanAir ever again!

  • October 28, 2014

    Two points made me smile. The Lonely Planet and the Flashy Wheels!
    And I thought the LP was the bible for every backpacker 😉
    Long live travelers without a backpack!

  • November 8, 2014

    Interesting perspective! My backpacking phase is still going strong and will probably last another couple of years, but I’m already doing many of the things you mention in this post: I love travelling alone, my backpack has wheels, and I try to avoid places that attract tons of other fellow backpackers (think Koh Phangan)… it probably has a lot to do with previous experiences, I guess – many of these routines become part of everyday life when you live abroad (I’m hitting my 7th year now). What I certainly look forward to once switching to a more ” grown up” style of travel (don’t quite know what to call it) is taking extra care of my body, unless it happens sooner when all the wild days catch up on me 😀

  • March 7, 2016

    Mine is, I actually like staying at resorts now and people that ask me if its boring confuse me, no all you can eat and drink by the beach is not boring I will rent a jetski if I get bored


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